If, while I was still drinking, I ended up castaway on a deserted island for a year, then my count of sober days would be 365. If however I was rescued and brought home then I’d have got completely trashed at the very first opportunity. The 365 days without a drink was no indication whatsoever of whether or not I would drink again.
Stopping drinking for a period does not cure alcoholism. It stops it progressing further, but it does not cure it.
While I was still drinking I hadn’t fully grasped the severity of my condition, let alone begun to confront it. On that imaginary deserted island I’d clocked up 365 sober days, but my progress towards recovery was still zero… nil, zip, nothing. I hadn’t even begun to fix my problem… I didn’t even acknowledge that I had one.
We often count days since we last drank as a measurement of success. But it’s important to recognise it for just what it is, or more importantly, what it is not. The number of sober days we have clocked up only means the number of consecutive days of abstinence. It is a measure of sobriety, not recovery.
Recovery is measured by our mental wellness, not the length of time since our last drink, and the two can be completely independent of each other.
If we pick up again briefly then our length of sobriety is lost… but our recovery isn’t.